HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Football is back! This is great news for fans but for one UAB Professor and Epidemiologist, Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., not so much... especially if people act like we are not in the middle of a pandemic.
"It concerns me, I'll be honest for a couple of reasons. Those seats are very close together. They're designed to get as many people in as possible so that the home team can have a big advantage as people are yelling and screaming," said Judd.
Health experts say a lack of social distancing and the absence of masks could be dangerous.
"The second thing is people are yelling and screaming. That's what you do at a football game, you're excited for your team! Well, that yelling and screaming allows particles to leave the body - those COVID particles of someone who is infectious, and they wind up on other people," said Judd.
People have not been able to live their life due to the pandemic for a while now, so much so that missing a game because you have a sore throat is not an option for many.
"If you've got football tickets to a game, and you've been waiting three weeks, six weeks, two years to go to a football game," said Judd. "If you're feeling a little sick -some people will still choose to go to the game because they don't want to miss it."
No social distancing, no masks and a whole lotta people: Judd says all these things make the perfect COVID-spreading storm.
Who's going to these games also plays a part. Younger people are unvaccinated, younger people are getting sick and younger people will be going to these games.
"They're particularly high in children and people between the ages of 20 and 40. And those are the folks that might be at the games, so it definitely is something that worries me," said Judd.
So, how do you play it safe at sporting events? By distancing yourself when possible, masking up and getting vaccinated.
"I think that if people are willing to wear a mask, that would be such a huge advantage at those football games. Not all season, we're just talking about right now, when COVID is at the point that it's at the peak, it's very high, and it could continue to go higher if we don't make some changes in the next two or three weeks," said Judd.